China Diaries of BLS Law Librarian: Part 2

Here is the second installment from Jean J. Davis, our Foreign and International Law Reference Librarian and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law, who is in Beijing, China with her husband, Kenneth R.  Davis:

My adventures continue…I am a little afraid to return to the convenience store in this housing project, after my husband Ken tried to pay for bottled water with the equivalent of a Macy’s coupon…  (In his defense, the coupon does look somewhat similar to the old 5 yuan paper bill previously printed in China.)  I am expecting a “wanted” poster of J & K Davis to be plastered to the wall.  

 This will interest the students of BLS:  Nick is a kind and helpful graduate mathematics and finance student who often accompanies me on excursions.  Yesterday I told him that I thought that he spoke English very well, and I asked how he had practiced his pronunciation.  He proudly told me that he had learned by watching episodes of  “Desperate Housewives” and “The Apprentice.”  Nick was intrigued when I explained that a BLS student had been a contestant on “The Apprentice.”  I gave him permission to tell me “you’re fired” when I mispronounce Chinese phrases.  (I get fired a lot…)  Nick explained to me that English is now compulsory for Chinese students.  The students begin studying English at age 6, and continue studying throughout the equivalent of high school.  Nick’s girlfriend is majoring in English.  One interesting result of this educational requirement–Chinese university students understand my attempts to say hello, thank you, how are you, excuse me, etc. in Chinese.  (I very much appreciate my lessons, Annie, Shing and Mr. Chung!)   I have more difficulty making myself understood in restaurants in which none of the staff members or managers speak English.  I am sure that this is because my intonation is incorrect, although I am trying to do better…  I am so grateful to Dean Gerber for providing me with some menu recommendations, and for providing me with my “restaurant phrases” in Chinese and English!

 Nick will interview for a job tomorrow.  (He is completing his last year of graduate school.)  Nick is from a northern province.  He explained that it is harder for a student who is not a native of Beijing and who does not have a network of contacts here to obtain a position in this city.  I hope that his interview goes well–he would be an asset to any corporation!  

 It is cold today (in the twenties right now).  I am off to take some photographs with my magic Blackberry, Jean